Carrier WiFi

802.11 Meshes Up

Industry demand for a wireless mesh standard looks set to add yet another specification letter to the 802.11 alphabet soup, according to the latest edition of Unstrung Insider.

The report, “Wireless Mesh: New Wave Broadband,” notes that work on the new Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) standard -- dubbed 802.11s -- is now well underway.

“A call for proposals was issued in January 2005, and by the March 2005 deadline, 34 individuals registered their intent to make a partial or full proposal to the [802.11s] Task Group,” writes report author, Gabriel Brown.

To date, most wireless mesh systems from the likes of PacketHop, Strix Systems Inc., and Tropos Networks have been based on proprietary mesh routing protocols. Donald Eastlake, chair of the 802.11s Task Group, is quoted in the report as stating that the group’s aim is to develop a standard wireless distribution system that operates between 802.11 access points and works with “stations that don’t know anything about mesh.”

Initial voting on the standard is tipped to begin in July this year, with a first draft of the standard expected in March 2006. After a review process, the standard will go through the formal IEEE proceedings and could be ratified in early 2008.

Once ratified, Brown says, the 802.11s standard is likely to target the SOHO (small office, home office) mesh market. “Although none of the proposals have yet been made public, sources interviewed say it is very likely that 802.11s will be oriented towards residential and small-office networks. This is because the Task Group membership is weighted towards chipset vendors, whose largest end market is the consumer.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

The report, Wireless Mesh: New Wave Broadband, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Unstrung Insider, priced at $1,350. Individual reports are available for $900. For more information, or to subscribe, please visit: www.unstrung.com/insider.

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